News reports say that the drug company Merck will pay $100 million to settle thousands of lawsuits revolving around its NuvaRing contraceptive. The settlement agreement was given preliminary approval by New Jersey Judge Brian Martinotti earlier this week who said that the deal could go through so long as enough plaintiffs agree to the terms.
Experts are saying that the settlement will help Merck move beyond the nearly 4,000 claims filed against it by women from across the country who say they were injured by NuvaRing. The plaintiffs have argued that Merck sold the contraceptive to women knowing that it posed a substantially higher risk of causing blood clots than other contraceptives that use older and safer versions of similar hormones.
The plaintiffs have argued that the progestin used in NuvaRing is a type that is more than twice as likely as other varieties of progestin to lead to the development of blood clots. Blood clots can be dangerous and even deadly in some cases, causing blockages that lead to heart attacks or strokes. The family members of a woman in Nebraska are among those suing Merck over NuvaRing. The woman was found dead by family members after she developed a blood clot in her lung. The family claims that Merck is responsible for misleading consumers about the safety of its drug.
The terms of the agreement that Judge Martinotti agreed to say that the agreement is contingent on 95 percent of all plaintiffs signing off on the plan. Should any more than five percent rebuff the settlement, then Merck will have the option of scuttling the deal.
Though $100 million is a sizable amount of money, many say that Merck will have gotten off easy compared to other recent massive settlements announced by major pharmaceutical companies. For instance, Bayer, a rival maker of contraceptives, paid more than $1.6 billion last year to settle claims regarding its Yasmin and Yaz line of birth control pills. Women similarly accused Bayer of making contraceptives that are more likely than other older drugs to cause blood clots.
Experts say that the smaller than expected settlement is likely because plaintiffs appear to have had a more difficult time than those in the Yasmin cases proving Merck’s liability. Judge Martinotti previously threw out several cases against Merck after the plaintiffs were unable to prove that NuvaRing caused their injuries. In another case, the judge said that the injured plaintiffs had not sufficiently demonstrated that their doctors would have prescribed a different contraceptive had Merck made the blood clot risks more prominent on a warning label.
If you or someone you know have been injured by a defective product and you would like to discuss your case with an attorney, please contact the Georgia product liability litigation attorneys at Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick, Morrison & Norwood, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.
Source: “Merck to Pay $100 Million NuvaRing Pact If Women Join,” by Jef Feeley, published at Bloomberg.com.
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